Data is important to any small business with a website. It lets us know how our website visitors are engaging with our online store fronts, where they are coming from, and what can be done to provide them with a better digital experience.
Something we've learned over the past 7 years is that presentation is almost as important as the data itself. When given a report with hundreds of metrics, dimensions, and raw data, it's easy for business owners to become overwhelmed. At Roketto we put a huge focus on providing our clients with crystal clear reports that are customized to their needs, and identify the real KPI's in the data that affect their bottom line.
With Google Data Studio finally opening it's Beta release to Canada, website reporting just got a whole lot better. We've been waiting for this since Data Studio was introduced as the newest component within the Google Analytics 360 Suite. Finally: interactive, visual, dynamic reports that can hook into dozens of different data sources!
Getting Started with Google Data Studio
You're excited; we get it. You want to jump right into this wonderful new land of beautiful, interactive reporting. But you'll quickly notice it's not exactly the single step "account connect" setup that many of the automatic/canned reporting platforms out there use.
Getting the most out of Google Data Studio requires careful planning and a methodical approach.
Hooking up The Data Sources
The first step in getting started is to hook up your data sources. Select from several options including Adwords, BigQuery, Cloud SQL, Attribution, MySQL, YouTube Analytics, Google Analytics, and more. If you don't see what you need, no problem! You can easily import anything you need from Google Sheets.
You'll need to ensure you have the proper permissions to the accounts you are trying to connect to. After connecting you'll be able to view all of the available options. You can search, disable, edit, and duplicate metrics and dimensions and advanced users can even created calculated fields based on their own formulas. Once you are happy with what you are importing, simply click "add to report".
Planning The Data
Once you have your data sources ready to go, the next step is to consider the data you want to include into the report.
Think about the metrics, dimensions, and goals that illustrate the results of your online marketing campaigns. For anything that doesn't fit, leave it out! There's nothing worse than fluff or arbitrary data; it will only take away from the value of your reporting.
It's important to get a clear idea of the needs and goals of your company or clients, and build out a report that paints the full picture in an easy to understand way.
Planning the Presentation
Back to what we said about the importance of presentation. A good report should be quick to read and easy to comprehend.
Google Data Studio provides some great ways to display your data including time series, bar charts, pie charts, tables, geo maps, scorecards, scatter charts, bullet charts, area charts, text, image, shapes, etc. Do yourself a favour and properly plan before jumping in!
We like to wireframe each report build out before hand, the same as we do for website projects. Creating a visual template of where and how all of the data will be placed can save hours and hours of time, and help you end up with a much better, well thought out report. It also gives you the opportunity to get sign off from your client or boss before you spend hours building it out.
This is the easy part. At this point you should have all of your data sources connected, a list of all of the information your report needs to include, and a wireframe that visually maps out where everything will be placed. All that's left now is to build it!
Using Google Data Studio's tools, you can select the type of chart/graph/table/etc., then click and drag to draw it out. You can easily resize it to fit within your layout, and you can toggle on view > grid if you want to be sure elements are lining up nicely.
Once you have your items all in place, you will notice each item has two main tabs: Data, and Style. The Data tab is where you'll configure "what" will be displayed. You can simply select the data source, dimensions and metrics, and the time frame it should be restricted to. Just like in Google Analytics or AdWords, you can easily use comparison data to show increases/decreases. You can even add filters for items that you need more control over.
The Style tab is where you'll configure "how" the items will be displayed. Colors, chart styles, axis titles, and much more can be quickly configured. Data Studio does a really nice job of making it easy to ensure your reports look great!
Like most Google products, sharing is the easiest part. Simply share a link or invite via email. You can also control whether invitees can view or edit reports.
The Power of Reporting
At Roketto, we understand that several business owners wait for their monthly website reports from us each month in order to make important decisions. This is a responsibility we take seriously, and are always trying to improve this area of our business.
If this sounds like an area you might be lacking in, reach out to us today. We'd love to chat about what better reporting could do for your company.